Fate/Apocrypha Episode 21: The great war rages on

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This week’s episode was more entertaining than a lot of the previous ones have been, but I wonder if it’s just because more stuff was happening. I still think the episode runs into issues with figuring out where it wants to put its focus. And while the highlight of the episode may have been the fight between Achilles and Chiron, I felt like that fight relied a bit too much on sound over visuals to make its point.

Am I really supposed to feel for Achilles here? It’s not like he’s the only Servant to ever get a scene like this.

Look, I know we need to give Shakespeare a decent role in this final fight, but a new moon means that the moon is still there. I’d understand if it was some sort of loophole, but it doesn’t strike me as something that would be as obvious as Shakespeare seems to think.

There’s definitely a lot to like about this fight. The extent of the fight seemed to give it meaning and I really liked the way that Chiron fought, especially when he uses the scarf against Achilles. It makes it a bit more annoying that he lost, but I can understand the typical “student surpasses the teacher” message.

It seems a bit weird to cripple your enemy right after you ask him for a favor.

Okay then, Atalanta. Let’s get this over with?

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Fate/Apocrypha Episode 20: Beginning of the end

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This finale is starting to look a lot like the mid-season finale, an extended skirmish between Yggdmillennia and the Hanging Gardens. Still, we’re in the final stretch, right?

While the fight scenes still seem pretty sketchy, there were two moments that I thought were really cool. The first was the one where Archer of Black used airplane to roll over on Rider of Red. And second was Ruler deflecting Archer of Red’s attack to block the second one. These definitely made the fight more bearable.

Hey, remember that plot point from the last episode that seemed pretty important? That whole deal where Rider didn’t know the true name of his Noble Phantasm? Yeah, it turns out that was actually no big deal at all…

Given that Sieg basically confessed that he was prepared to die earlier in this episode, this point seems a bit moot. I guess it’s just meant to show how much Ruler cares…

It must really suck to be Shakespeare. He contributes basically nothing so far, and he gets bullied anyway.

I’m not even gonna pretend like I know what this means. But hey…Heaven’s Feel was mentioned, am I right?

Fate/Apocrypha Episode 18: Break time

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I guess this week’s episode was cooling down from the Jack interlude and preparing for the final fight. I guess the only exciting part of this episode was the Astolfo reveal, but the internet has already systematically made sure I knew about that already. There’s also the continuation of the Sieg struggle, which I’m not sure was necessary.

I can’t really be bothered to look back through the episodes leading up to this point, but was it ever suggested that Astolfo wasn’t fighting with a real Noble Phantasm? This reveal seemed really random and I was pretty convinced that it was just put here to randomly give Astolfo a purpose. Wonder if I missed something…

I didn’t have problems with Sieg’s doubts from last week, but they felt overblown in this week’s episode. I guess I was expecting him to investigate these things more subtly, but he has a full-blown conversation with Saber of Red of all people. Talk about unproductive.

Yeah, this whole sibling thing was set up, but I wasn’t really interested in it. When I saw the shadow fall over Caules in this scene, I was honestly wondering if the Hanging Gardens had suddenly appeared outside of the castle. That would have been pretty funny…

Did Sieg realize that Ruler’s into him? I sure hope that’s what this line meant.

Fate/Apocrypha Episode 18: Random interlude done

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I’m really struggling with this Jack story. It might have been better with a bit more information, but I couldn’t see it as much more than an excuse to split the party. I had way too much questions about why characters were behaving the way they were. The random scene at the end where Shakespeare basically says “and now back to the story” was pretty funny because of how true it was…

Atalanta’s the big culprit in this episode. The opening of the episode explained that her dream for the Grail comes from the fact that she was abandoned as a child, but it doesn’t explain why she completely turns on Jeanne. If Artemis treated her well, I don’t see why she would have so much resentment bottled up. Why was she so viscerally offended by the fact that Jeanne wanted to destroy the kids that made up Jack? The only explanation I could muster was that Jack brainwashed her, but Jack was willing to accept death in the end.

And on that note, why did the kids change their mind? From my perspective, I saw Atalanta and Jeanne arguing about what the right thing to do was, and suddenly a child walks forward ask if there’s any other way. Then, they just accept when Jeanne says “no”. That scene kinda cheapened the background to me, making me think that the only reason it was there was to force Atalanta to hate Jeanne.

Still, there was one part of the episode that I liked, which was surprisingly Sieg’s scene. The fact that he’s a homunculus that has only seen the benevolence of humans is used well when he’s shown the suffering of London in Jack’s past. His response makes sense when he questions why humans can act in this ways, because he’s rightfully surprised to see it. I just wish that there was more to Jeanne’s response. I kinda want to know why she accepts human cruelty so easily.

Fate/Apocrypha Episode 17: Zombies?

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I guess the Jack train is still rolling. Still, most of this episode’s first half seemed like a simple excuse to force Ruler and Sieg together some more. I’m not convinced by the “decoy” plan because Ruler immediately returns to being a Servant at the first hint of the acid mist. At least try to confirm that Jack is there first…

Still, the contrast between Shiro and Jeanne wasn’t bad. Shiro’s declaration that he threw away his hatred of humanity makes me think he channeled it into his current plan. On the other hand, Jeanne doesn’t forgive humanity, but instead understands why they turned against her.

Question: why wouldn’t Sieg be worried about Leticia? Jeanne is kinda taking advantage of her and sticking her into a dangerous situation. Isn’t that a bit messed up?

Semiramis is definitely not copying Medea here by falling in love with her Master. She’s obviously an Assassin, so it’s completely different!

I would totally care about this death if this character had gotten more than a single sentence of backstory.

I guess I’m supposed to conclude from the continuous use of plural pronouns that Jack the Ripper is actually an amalgamation of the street kids from this scene. If Jack only said “we”, I would think that she just has some strange attachment to her former friends. However, other characters refer to Jack as “they”, so there’s clearly more to it. This is why we can’t have nice things, translators.

Fate/Apocrypha Episode 16: Very spooky

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I’m trying to decide whether the flow of events in this series makes any sense, and I’m having a really hard time. These past few episodes have made me feel like someone said “oh, we haven’t talked about X yet, so let’s just throw it here”. In this situation, Jack the Ripper’s entrance almost seemed like a convenience given that they have three days before they assault the Hanging Gardens.

If I had to point to one thing that I liked in this episode, it would be Jack’s ability to keep her identity hidden. I really wasn’t expecting an ability like that and I think it’s cool.

However, that ability is deeply contrasted by the acid mist. It’s probably the most frustrating ability I’ve seen because it seems to just work whenever the story wants it to work. In some scenes, a character will cover his or her mouth and still get affected by the acide. In other scenes, characters will blatantly breathe it in and be okay. Make up you mind.

This might be another case where I just missed something obvious, but I was hoping for a bit more setup for the fact that Jack’s true aim was to invade the castle. I know it was mentioned that the dead mages were linked to the Yggdmillenia family, but that’s all I saw.

As for the whole situation with Sieg’s arm, I really don’t care that much. As far as I can tell, it’s just a way to tell us that Sieg is not surviving until the end unless something completely dumb saves him. He basically has multiple points of failure now between the Command Spell that should never be used and the power that’s slowly killing him.

Fate/Apocrypha Episode 15: All your dreams

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For some reason, this episode seemed entirely devoted to revealing the characters’ wishes. To be fair, we eventually had to find out, but this seems like a weird time to do it. I guess we finally have a break or something. While it certainly made for decent explanations of character motivations, the reactions to each wish seemed overly exaggerated. At a certain point, you’re overdoing the “that’s your wish??” response.

The explanation of the Grail in this episode felt like it could have used a little more attention. It sounded like they were trying to demystify the Grail and make its power more digestible. However, all I got was that the Grail would grant any wish as long as the user could visualize a realistic fulfillment of that wish.

Am I the only person who really wants Caules to die? He’s just asking for it.

Wow, I can’t wait for Sieg to consistently disobey this command.

Morded and Sisigo probably had my favorite interaction in this episode. Other than maybe Sieg and Rider, these two have the best Master and Servant relationship in the cast.

Hmm…I wonder if maybe Shirou’s plan isn’t the salvation that keeps promising.

Fate/Apocrypha Episode 14: Team up

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I don’t know if there’s something going on with the second half, but I’m still having issues with this series. I’m starting to wonder if I gave the series too much leeway in the first half because I recognized that it was still ramping up. I was so surprised that Caster went down in a single episode that I was really expecting the golem to get back up at the end.

If Caster was willing to sacrifice everything just to get his golem operational, even his own life, what the heck was holding him back? It doesn’t even seem like he needed to betray the Black Faction. His original plan was to use Gordes after all, and it’s not like he cared if the Black Faction killed him in retaliation. Why not just finish the golem?

I’m also not really losing much sleep over Caster’s Master, who ended up as the golem core in the end. He had basically no introduction or screen time, after all. I was curious about his final question about why Caster was trying to create a human too, but I guess that’s not going anywhere with both dead.

I will admit that this scene with the hippogriff refusing to join the fight was a surprising laugh in this episode. It might have been my favorite moment in the episode.

On the other hand, the scene between Mordred and Jeanne seemed to be going for the same comedic effect, but felt much less effective. It felt extraneous and took too much time just to negotiate a Command Spell.

So does Sieg have to use a Command Spell every time he transforms? That seems incredibly inconvenient for something that only lasts a few minutes.

Finally, what exactly happened to Chiron’s Noble Phantasm? Was it the heat vision thing that he used to see Adam’s weak point? It felt like he was supposed to make a final strike, but it never came.

Fate/Apocrypha Episode 13: Did I miss something?

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I don’t know whether it’s just the new season or this episode in particular, but I found myself really frustrated while watching this episode. Maybe I’m just missing explanations that exist in the light novel, but too many parts in this episode felt too random and undeveloped. To give a quick example, I’m perfectly willing to accept that Sieg is the protagonist and therefore should be a Master, but his noticing the Command Spells in this episode felt like a pretty sudden development.

Can someone explain this part of the conversation between Shirou and Jeanne? They talked a lot about salvation and some sort of prayer. When did a particular religious belief become relevant to this Grail War?

Also, Shirou is basically taking control of the game because…reasons? Caster of Black in particular probably had the most casual betrayal I’ve ever seen. His only concern other than the safety of his Master was that Shirou wouldn’t interfere with his own plans. What kind of logic is that? Karna at least had the excuse that Shirou had just become his Master.

The death of Rider’s Master was surprisingly satisfying, but that’s mostly because she felt pretty lackluster as a character. It seemed like she only existed to be some generic crazy chick with no real motivation or background. While it’s very dramatic to have her force Rider to kill Sieg, it doesn’t really mean much…we have no sense of why she even cares. Mordred really did us a favor.

One last side comment: I happened to notice this scene from the opening animation. It looks a lot like Irisviel, so I’m assuming this shot is an indication of Shirou’s end game. It’s not shocking, but that seems pretty blatant.

Fate/Apocrypha Episode 12: Bullying Lancer as always

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Well, this episode seems to be setting up a completely different battle for the second half of this series. As always, being Lancer is suffering. I wasn’t expecting Darnic to fully invest by taking over Lancer in his Dracula form. What exactly was his plan if he managed to kill everyone? It’s not like every Servant of Red was participating in that fight, after all.

I was hoping for a bit more out of this truce than what we saw. While it’s true that everyone contributed, it still looked like an extension of the fight between Dracula and Karna in the end. It really doesn’t take too long before the Red Servants are taken out of the fight.

And on that note, what exactly was the reasoning for that? Was it just because Ruler had used the Command Spell to gain the allegiance of the Red Servants? It also looked like Shiro took the Command Spells from the masters as well…or at least forced them to use them up. I’m not sure I fully understand that part.

I don’t know why I didn’t guess that the character literally named “Shiro” was secretly a Servant. I really should have known better. I guess they did set up his vendetta, but Darnic really didn’t feel too “present” in the first half of the series. Is he really just dead now?

I suppose this development is meant to set up a new type of Grail War for the future, one in which the two Rulers fight for control over the war or something. I’m not sure what to make of it yet, so I guess we’ll see. With Darnic dead, I’m not sure how much is left of Shiro’s motivation to make him an interesting villain.